Icelanders protest withdrawal of EU application

  • Icelanders protest an ambiguous withdrawal of our application for EU membership
  • Icelanders protest an ambiguous withdrawal of our application for EU membership
  • Icelanders protest an ambiguous withdrawal of our application for EU membership
  • Icelanders protest an ambiguous withdrawal of our application for EU membership
Mar 17 2015

From the beginning of our devastating financial crisis in autumn of 2008 Icelanders have regularly marched down to the square in front of Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament, to protest.  They gather in numbers to protest decisions and actions of the Icelandic government.  Early on these protests reflected massive disappointment and anger.  Quite understandably as the Icelandic economy had collapsed and three of the largest banks were bankrupt. In recent times the protests have been peaceful and probably sophisticated.
Since 2008 we have seen many protests.  People like their voice to be heard and secure that the government is listening.  Since 2008 we have seen protests on many separate issues.   As a form of involvement in a democratic process it is an interesting development and during this time people from all sectors and age groups of the population have participate.
The latest protests on Sunday and today are related to our application to enter the European Union.  The question whether we should enter or not has become one of the largest political disputes in the country.
One of the first tasks the current coalition government attended to after taking power was to send the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Brussels and announce that Iceland had withdrawn its application.  This resulted in all kinds of tension among the population and the opposition parties in Althingi.  Later the current coalition tried to withdraw formally by submitting a resolution to Althingi to withdraw.   That resulted in major crises, thousands of Icelanders signing a petition to ask for elections on the withdrawal of the application and protests.
The latest development is a letter from the Icelandic government the Minister of Foreign Affairs pulled out of his hat in Brussels and submitted to Edgars Rinkevics, who currently holds the EU Presidency, emphasizing that Iceland is no longer a candidate and should not be on the list of countries applying for membership in EU.   Neither the EU nor the opposition in Iceland seems to fully understand what the letter is all about.  I seems the formal process needed to withdraw has not been fulfilled nor submitted in a formal manner to the appropriate authorities in Brussels.
And now once again people are marching to the square Austurvöllur to protest and demand that the government follow appropriate democratic processes in accordance with the Icelandic Constitution.